Land Reclamation Program fact sheet
Missouri Geological Survey Director: Carey Bridges, RG

Several Missouri Department of Natural Resources permits are required to start or operate an open pit mine in Missouri. This fact sheet gives a summary of the process to obtain the various permits needed from the Department. Three programs within the Department manage open pit mining permits. The Land Reclamation, Air Pollution Control and Water Protection programs.

Open Pit Mining Permits — Land Reclamation Program

Open pit surface mine operators who began mining in Missouri on or after Jan. 1, 1972, are required to apply for and obtain a permit from the Land Reclamation Program under the direction of the Missouri Mining Commission. Download a packet containing application forms, instructions and supplemental information. Forms are also available by calling the Department’s toll-free number at 800-361-4827. First-time applicants should talk to program staff while preparing their permit application and other forms. If assistance is needed with any application form for a mining permit, contact the program directly at 573-751-4041.

To make sure funds will be available for reclamation, the operator is required to post a bond, payable to the state of Missouri, as part of the permit application. The bond remains in effect until the reclamation requirements of the mine plan and law are met, and the Land Reclamation Program approves the completed reclamation. Upon request made by the operator, the reclaimed areas will be inspected by a representative of the Land Reclamation Program. The staff director of the Land Reclamation Program will approve or deny the reclamation based on the results of the field inspection.
The operator is required to submit a mine operation and reclamation plan (mine plan) as part of the permit application. The mine plan describes the conditions of the areas to be mined, the methods of mining, and the plans for reclamation. The mine plan contains very important information about how the open pit mine will be operated. Open pit mine owners should prepare and read the plan very carefully and review it regularly. Also, make sure all employees with direct control over the operation of the mine know what is stated in the plan and have a copy available to review at any time. After the Department receives an application it is reviewed for completeness.

After the application is deemed complete, the Department informs the company to go out on public notice. At that time, the company will need to run an advertisement, pursuant to section 493.050 RSMo., announcing an intent to operate a surface mine in a newspaper qualified to publish public notices in the county where the proposed mine is located. The newspaper ad will need to run once a week for four consecutive weeks. There is an additional 15-day public notice comment period following the final publication.

The company will also send certified letters to any neighbor whose property borders the proposed mine plan area, unless the property bordering the parcel where the mine plan area resides has a legal relation with the applicant or the owner of the land. In the case where the neighboring property has a legal relation, the next tier neighbors will need to be sent certified mail. Finally, certified letters must be sent to the local government authority (city and/or county level) announcing an intent to operate an open pit mine. Anyone from the public can respond during these six weeks of the public notice comment period. By law they can provide comments, or request an informal public meeting. Letters with comments only do not require an informal public meeting, but the comments are answered to address concerns.

Following the end of the comment period, two things can happen:

  1. If there is no request for a public meeting, the Department issues the permit.
  2. The public can request the permit applicant hold an informal public meeting to discuss the permit application along with other concerns. If any person requests a public meeting, the applicant shall cooperate with the staff director in making all necessary arrangements for the public meeting to be held in a reasonably convenient location and at a reasonable time for interested participants, and the applicant shall bear the expenses. The public meeting is informal where the applicant provides background information about their operation, the staff director of the Land Reclamation Program provides information about the program, followed by a question and answer session about the permit application. Following the public meeting, a summary of the concerns and responses to those concerns is written. This summary is used by the staff director to make a decision to approve or deny the permit within the next six weeks. 

Whenever a surface mining permit is issued or denied, any aggrieved person, by petition filed with the Administrative Hearing Commission within 30 days of the decision, may appeal such decision. 

Air Permits at Quarries and Stone Crushing Facilities — Air Pollution Control Program

A facility is required to have an air construction permit prior to construction and operation of the equipment. A facility may apply for a pre-construction waiver which, upon approval, allows construction, but not operation of the facility. General land clearing of the site is acceptable prior to receipt of the air permit, but this activity may require a land disturbance permit from the Water Pollution Control Program.
The pollutant of most concern for quarries is particulate matter with diameter of less than 10 microns, or PM10. If a quarry has a generator on-site, nitrogen oxides may also need to be taken into account in the permit.

To receive an air permit, a facility must first submit a permit application and associated forms with a filing fee to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The application forms include an Application for Authority to Construct, Emissions Unit Information forms, a site layout form and worksheets for haul roads, storage piles and fuel storage tanks. Information needed with these forms includes a drawing of the site layout, a listing of process equipment that will be used with its manufacturer, date manufactured and serial number and the rated design performance of the equipment. Facilities will also need to report the expected annual rock production at the site.

The Department’s Air Pollution Control Program calculates the emissions of each “piece” of equipment to verify the proposed plant will be in compliance with all air quality standards. Air Program staff also take into consideration haul roads used by vehicles in the quarry and potential dust that may come from these roads.

After review of the completed application, the Department will draft a permit for the facility to review. The facility then has an opportunity to comment on the draft permit. If both sides are in agreement with the permit and the conditions of the permit, the Department will issue the permit after the permit review fees are paid.

The potential emissions from a facility help determine what permit conditions are necessary for the facility to maintain compliance with air quality standards and what type of permit the facility needs. There are three types of air construction permits: De Minimis, Minor and Prevention of Significant Deterioration. The only type of air permit that triggers a public notice is a Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit, also referred to as major air permits. This type of permit is required when the potential air emissions of any pollutant is above 250 tons per year. Most Missouri quarry permits have potential emissions of particulate matter less than 10 microns well below 250 tons.

In addition to a construction permit, an operating permit may also be required. Operating permits are required if a facility has large potential emissions or if any equipment is subject to the New Source Performance Standards, or NSPS. Plants with portable permits are not required to have an operating permit. If an operating permit is required, an application must be submitted after the facility begins operation.

An Emissions Inventory Questionnaire, or EIQ, is required for a facility that holds a construction or operating permit. A full EIQ is required for the first year of air emissions. Depending on the type of permit, a full EIQ is then required either annually or if emission levels change more than 5 tons per year.

If you need help determining whether your operation needs a permit, or if you need help completing an application, contact the Department at 800-361-4827.

It is important to note you may need a permit if you plan to make changes at your existing quarry and stone operation.
To apply for an air permit, you will need to send a completed application to the air pollution control agency with jurisdiction in your area.

St. Louis County

St. Louis County Dept. of Health

Elsewhere in Missouri

Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Air Pollution Control Program

Visit the department's Air Pollution Control Program webpage for information about air permits and forms.

Stormwater and Process Wastewater Permits — Water Pollution Control Program

General permit MO-G49 is available for limestone, frac sand and other rock quarry stormwater and process wastewater discharges.

Upon submittal, the Department will review the application and hold a 30-day public comment period for facilities not previously permitted. After the public comment period, the Department will either approve or deny the application.

Process wastewater includes quarry pit or mine dewatering, and vehicle and equipment washwater (without added detergents, acids, caustics, solvents or other additives). It authorizes the use of soap or detergents in vehicle washing, but only if less than 500 gallons per day is used, and the water is not discharged (e.g., allowed to soak into the ground). Equipment washwater without these additives can be discharged the same as other process wastewater. Further explanation is provided in the general permit.

This general permit has discharge monitoring and reporting requirements. Sand and gravel washing, clay pits and clay mining are not covered under this permit. These operations require different permits. To apply for the general permit MO-G49, complete an application Form E,  and submit it along with a location map and required fee to your nearest Department regional office.

Facility owners may obtain a site-specific permit instead of a general permit, if they so desire. Site specific permits may be applied for by submitting Form A and Form C to the appropriate regional office. A site-specific permit takes into account the individual characteristics of the site; stormwater runoff, process wastewater and domestic wastewater discharges. This means, while multiple general permits might be required for several different activities, one site-specific permit can be obtained that authorizes them all. It can be less conservative in effluent limits or narrative conditions if the conditions of the receiving stream allow, but the annual fees are considerably higher. The dDepartment may require a quarry to obtain a site-specific discharge permit if it determines it is needed to better protect water quality.

404 Permits and 401 Certifications

Section 404(a) of the Clean Water Act, requires a Federal 404 Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction activities where there is a discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires a 401 Certification for any project that needs a Federal 404 permit.

“Waters of the United States” are:

  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Streams (including dry streams)
  • Abandoned quarry pits
  • Wetlands (including dry wetlands)

The following are not generally considered “waters of the United States”:

  • Non-tidal drainage and irrigation ditches
  • Artificially irrigated areas
  • Artificial lakes or ponds
  • Artificial reflecting or swimming pools
  • Water-filled depressions

It is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine if a waterway is a water of the U.S. by jurisdictional determinations. Contact the USACE for a jurisdictional determination and if the project will require a 404 permit. 

Missouri is split into different U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Districts. Locate the district that covers your area. St. Louis District website. Visit the Kansas City District website. .

Applicants submit a copy of the 404 permit application to both the Corps and the Department of Natural Resources’ Water Protection Program. After the application is received, the Corps and the Department will hold a joint 30-day public comment period. After the comment period, the Corps will request issuance of the certification. The Department will then issue, issue with special conditions, or deny the certification.

Find more information about Missouri’s Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification.

Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.

For more information